Honour, family and philanthropy: Why humbled Siya Kolisi chose to make his French move

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  • A humble Siya Kolisi says he owes the people who made sacrifices for his rise by grabbing the opportunity of signing for French club Racing 92.
  • He cites more time with his family and the club's concerted philanthropic efforts as major considerations for moving on from the Sharks after the World Cup.
  • But the family will return to SA and, for now, he's still fully committed to the Durban franchise's campaign.

A typically humble Siya Kolisi reiterated that he's not a self-made man and that his eye-catching move to French club Racing 92 at the conclusion of this year's World Cup - confirmed early on Tuesday - has been made possible again by the "immense contributions of so many people in my life".

The inspirational Springbok captain, whose life story of impoverished youngster to one of South Africa's most recognisable sportsmen has become the stuff of legend, duly wants to honour those individuals' sacrifices with his new Paris-based gig.

"It is these positive influences that have resulted in me becoming both the man, and the rugby player, I am today," Kolisi said in a statement released on his respective social media accounts.

"It has always been my desire to honour these contributions by making most of every opportunity that I receive."

The 31-year-old loose forward had as recently as last May extended his terms with the Sharks to 2027, but reports began surfacing late last year that the French giants had commenced discussions with him and clinched his signature.

Given his hectic playing schedule over the past several years, Kolisi unsurprisingly cited a desire to change his family dynamics as a major consideration for his move.

"Rachel and the kids have sacrificed so much throughout my career, and I am immeasurably grateful for this," he said.

"The move to Racing 92 will enable me to spend more time with my family, which is something that I have longed for, and this prospect certainly played a significant part in my decision-making.

"[Also], not many athletes get the chance to write the chapters of their respective stories and I view this new challenge as an opportunity to do this."

At least at face value, Kolisi can't be accused of moving on to a less demanding assignment on the field as Racing are perennial challengers for the French Top14 title - they currently sit third this season - and were runners-up in 2019/20's Champions Cup.

He joins fellow accomplished Boks Trevor Nyakane and Warrick Gelant, along with several other overseas stars such as Scottish pivot Finn Russell and Puma stalwart Juan Imhoff.

But the club's social responsibility initiatives also holds appeal.  

"I'm fully aware that Racing has great ambitions on the field, while the club's progressive outlook on philanthropic projects is also hugely encouraging and aligns with my personal values and mission," said Kolisi.

That doesn't mean he'll neglect his massive footprint in South Africa and his foundation will continue to do its fine work, with the Kolisis planning on returning to South Africa after the French sojourn.

For now, Kolisi is fully focused on making his final chapter with the Sharks a memorable one.

"It has been an incredible collaborative effort between the Sharks and Racing 92 that has enabled me to start a new chapter in my career after the 2023 World Cup. I want to give a massive thanks to the Sharks for welcoming me with open arms in 2021, and for making me feel so at home in Durban, while their support over the last couple of years has been hugely influential during a key period in my career.

"I am immensely appreciative that the Sharks have given me their blessing to make this move, and it goes without saying that I will continue to give my all for the team over the next few months.”

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